COLUMN: Banned Books

Each year the American Library Association (ALA) celebrates the freedom to read during Banned Book Week.

Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year marks BBW's 31st anniversary (Sept. 22 to 28). Exercise your freedom to read (and not just during Banned Book Week) with these historic and recently banned books.

“Thirteen Reasons Why”

By Jay Asher

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013.

Reasons for being banned: drug/alcohol/smoking use, sexually explicit, suicide and unsuitability for age group.

“Imagine you come home from high school and find a package of cassette tapes addressed to you. You pop one in and hear the voice of a classmate that committed suicide. She is talking to you. And she says you are one of the reasons why she did it…” “Author Asher illustrates that there doesn’t have to be any one reason why in this riveting book that becomes an even more moving experience on audio CD.”

Recommended by Chantal Sparkes at Onondaga Free Library.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

By Stephen Chbosky

Pocket Books, 1996.

Reasons for being banned: drug/alcohol use, sex, language, homosexuality and unsuitable for age group.

A fifteen year-old boy relates in letters the emotions, confusion, and his perceptions of navigating high school and growing up in the 1990s. “This book has been challenged because parents and/or community members believe it is ‘unsuited to age group’; however, judging the suitability of a book for a child or teen is subjective and must be left to the parent of the individual child or teen. Chbosky’s book speaks to teens, in their voices, using their language, about their lives. It is a brilliant work of young adult fiction that adults should read as well.”

Recommended by Lisa Bankert at Onondaga County Public Library at the Galleries.

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